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Input Devices

Indian Engineers Modify Kinect To Help the Blind Walk With Confidence 59

New submitter albinobee writes "The Kinect for Xbox 360 isn't only about gaming; it can also be used to help compensate for impaired vision, as a team of Indian engineers is working to prove. A device called viSparsh, still in its nascent stage, is a motion sensing belt that can help alert the blind to obstacles that lie in their path."
Data Storage

New Intel 520 Series SSD Taps SandForce Controller 72

crookedvulture writes "Intel continues to partner with third-party controller makers for high-end SSDs. Its new 520 Series drives pair the latest SandForce controller with Intel's own firmware and 25-nm NAND. HotHardware, Tech Report, and PC Perspective all have reviews of the drive, and the verdict is pretty consistent. While the Intel 520 Series offers slightly better performance than competing SandForce solutions, it also costs 30-40% more. That's a steep margin even considering the Intel SSD's five-year warranty."

A5 Mystery Solved (Why Siri Won't Run On iPhone 4) 239

Hugh Pickens writes "Anna Leach reports that Siri support has been a contentious issue for owners of earlier iPhones, but a recent filing from Audience shows that Siri won't run on the iPhone 4 because the phone's chip can't handle it. Linley Gwennap of the Linley Group cracked one of the secrets of the new iPhone's A5 chip after working out that it packs some serious audio cleaning power not available on the iPhone 4's A4 chip. Audience has developed technology that removes most or all of the background noise when someone places a cell-phone call from a restaurant, airport, or other noisy location. The iPhone 4S integrates Audience's 'EarSmart' technology directly into the A5 processor, improving its technology to handle 'far-field speech,' which means holding the device at arm's length rather than directly in front of the mouth. Apple has also licensed the Audience technology for a 'new generation of processor IP,' which may mean that the forthcoming A6 processor will appear in the iPad 3 and iPhone 5. 'Why Apple has not simply purchased Audience is unclear. An acquisition would prevent Audience's other major customer, Samsung, from using the technology to compete with Apple,' says Gwennap. 'The company may be hedging its bets, as it could switch to Qualcomm's Fluence noise-reduction technology in the future.'"
United Kingdom

Nascent Graphene Institute Makes Steps Toward Transistors 22

judgecorp writes "A research team at Manchester has taken a big step toward building transistors with graphene. So far graphene's marvelous conductivity has actually proved a drawback, but the team has sandwiched a layer of molybdenum disulfide between layers of graphene to provide a high on/off ratio. Also, the British Government is finding £50 million to fund Manchester as a center for graphene study and development, led by two professors there, Sir Kostya Novoselov and Sir Andre Geim, who shared the 2010 Nobel prize for Physics for their work on graphene."

MIT Envisions DIY Solar Cells Made From Grass Clippings 126

Zothecula writes "Research scientist Andreas Mershin has a dream to bring inexpensive solar power to the masses, especially those in developing countries. After years of research, he and his team at MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms, along with University of Tennessee biochemist Barry Bruce, have worked out a process that extracts functional photosynthetic molecules from common yard and agricultural waste. If all goes well, in a few years it should be possible to gather up a pile of grass clippings, mix it with a blend of cheap chemicals, paint it on your roof and begin producing electricity. Talk about redefining green power plants!"

83-Year-Old Woman Gets New 3D-Printed Titanium Jaw 121

arnodf writes "The University of Hasselt (in Belgium) announced today (Google translation of Dutch original) that Belgian and Dutch scientists have successfully replaced an 83-year-old woman's lower jaw with a 3D-printed model. According to the researchers, 'It is the first custom-made implant in the world to replace an entire lower jaw. ... The 3D printer prints titanium powder layer by layer, while a computer controlled laser ensures that the correct particles are fused together. Using 3D printing technology, less materials are needed and the production time is much shorter than traditional manufacturing. The artificial jaw is slightly heavier than a natural jaw, but the patient can easily get used to it."

AMD Says It's 'Ambidextrous,' Hints It May Offer ARM Chips 140

J. Dzhugashvili writes "Today at its Financial Analyst Day, AMD made statements that strongly suggest it plans to offer ARM-based chips alongside its x86 CPUs and APUs. According to coverage of the event, top executives including CEO Rory Read talked up an 'ambidextrous' approach to instruction-set architectures. One executive went even further: 'She said AMD will not be "religious" about architectures and touted AMD's "flexibility" as one of its key strategic advantages for the future.' The roadmaps the execs showed focused on x86 offerings, but it seems AMD is overtly setting the stage for a collaboration with ARM."

In Xhengzhou, Thousands Vie For Foxconn Jobs 386

hypnosec writes "Foxconn is supposedly looking to enhance its workforce in the Chinese city of Zhengzhou and despite the less-than-satisfactory working conditions in the company, thousands of aspirants are lining up for jobs in its factories. Not caring about the harsh working conditions at Foxconn, thousands of people congregated outside a labor office in Zhengzhou, the largest city of Henan province in North central China, impatiently waiting for a chance to work at Foxconn. Foxconn, which is engaged in assembling iPhones and iPads for Apple, is planning to hire an additional 100000 employees as it is aiming at augmenting its iPhone production."

Sensor Networks In San Francisco Finds Parking Spots 209

MrSeb writes "You've heard of smart cars, and now, rolling out in San Francisco, is a smart parking system that promises to eliminate the arduous process of finding a parking spot. SFpark is a network of magnetic sensors that have been installed under 8,200 street parking spaces, along with additional information from parking garages and parking meters. These sensors are all linked together in a mesh network, and ultimately link back to a central command center. Drivers can access this parking data via the SFpark website or smartphone app, and see in real-time where parking spaces are available. At any one time, a third of cars on the road in urban areas are looking for parking spots, consuming more fuel, creating more pollution, and causing more accidents. With SFpark, you can see at a glance where there's a parking spot — but in the future, you'll be able to hit a button and have your smartphone direct you to the nearest parking spot."

Crab Robot Helps Remove Stomach Cancer 83

redletterdave writes "Singaporean researchers have created a miniature robot with a pincer and a hook that can remove early-stage stomach cancers without leaving any scars. Mounted on an endoscope, it enters the patient's gut through the mouth. It has a pincer to hold cancerous tissues, and a hook that slices them off and coagulates blood to stop bleeding. With the help of a tiny camera attached to the endoscope, the surgeon sees what's inside the gut and controls the robotic arms remotely while sitting in front of a monitor screen. The robot has already helped remove early-stage stomach cancers in five patients in Hong Kong and India, using a fraction of the time normally taken in open and keyhole surgeries that put patients at higher risk of infection and leave behind scars."

Microsoft Releases Kinect For Windows 130

nk497 writes "Microsoft has released Kinect for Windows, featuring a new "near mode" that lets the gesture control tech be used as close as 40cm. The Kinect for Windows hardware will retail at $249 — well above the price of the version for Xbox 360 consoles. Microsoft defended the price difference, saying sales of games and Xbox Live subscriptions help subsidize the console version. The new version will support Windows 7 and the Windows 8 developer preview, as well as Windows Embedded 7 devices."

Mitt Romney, Robotics, and the Uncanny Valley 501

Hugh Pickens writes "Brian Fung writes in the Atlantic that one of Romney's electoral problems is that he occupies a kind of uncanny valley for politicians, inexplicably turning voters off despite looking like the textbook image of an American president. Just as people who interact with lifelike robots often develop a strange feeling due to something they can't quite name, something about Romney leaves voters unsettled. As with the robotic version of the uncanny valley, the closer Romney gets to becoming real to a voter, the more his likeability declines. 'The effect is almost involuntary, considering the substantial advantages Romney enjoys from appearance alone,' writes Fung. 'But in person, his polished persona gives way to what appears a surprisingly forced and inauthentic character.' Political commentator Dana Milbanks adds that although Romney is confident and competent, in casual moments his weirdness comes through — equal parts 'Leave It to Beaver' corniness and social awkwardness. 'Romney's task now is to work his way out of the uncanny valley toward a more compelling style of humanity,' concludes Fung. 'But every day he lingers in it, the hill grows steeper.'"

The Science of Human-Robot Love 88

MrSeb writes "Since Slashdot first covered lovotics back in July 2011, its creator — Hooman Samani — has been busy working on a couple of new applications for his fledgling scientific sphere of human-robot love: Kissenger and Mini-Surrogate. Kissenger is a robot with highly-sensitive and motor-actuated lips, which you can use to transmit a kiss to another Kissenger robot (held by a friend or loved one) over the internet. Mini-Surrogate is basically a real-world avatar that adds a physical element to video conferencing. Both are primarily for human-human use, but it's easy to imagine a Kissenger hooked up to an AI or video game. Likewise, the next Elder Scrolls game could come with a Mini-Surrogate, so that you can communicate with your in-game wife while you're knee-deep in fireballed orc."

Why the Raspberry Pi Won't Ship In Kit Form 240

An anonymous reader writes "A post at the Raspberry Pi blog shows an image containing the device's SoC and memory chip to help explain why the tiny PC won't ship in kit form. Clearly, the chips are so small, and the solder blobs required so tiny, that most people would mess up doing it by hand. Add to that the fact one chip has to sit on top of the other, and if you're a millimeter out, your chips are fried." The post also addresses the use of closed source libraries for graphics acceleration.